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Winning my battle with food
As it turned out, true acceptance is what enabled me to fully recover ... true acceptance of myself and my truths.
-- Wendy Williams Blackshaw

by Wendy Williams Blackshaw

My eating disorder started when I was a teenager. I grew up in an alcoholic home, and anxiety and fear were a constant. When I went away to college, I couldn't cope. My inability to adhere to my self-imposed perfectionistic standards led to perceived failure, which lead to extreme bouts of self-loathing.

My coping mechanism became trying to control everything in my life. Impossible. But the one area I could control was my weight and eating. I fell into a dangerous cycle of eat/restrict, eat/restrict, which quickly overcame me. I tried therapy, medication, 12-step groups - many of these things helped. And many did not.

I had periods where I felt "recovered," followed by difficult times where I really believed that I would always deal with an eating disorder on some level and that I'd better learn to accept it.

As it turned out, true acceptance is what enabled me to fully recover. However, it was not acceptance of a lifelong battle with an eating disorder, but true acceptance of myself and my truths.

Truth No. 1: I had to accept that food is just food - neither good nor bad. I had to let go of the idea that if I ate certain foods, I had "slipped." While the abstinence model works for many, for me it's an open invitation to embark on some good ol' self-flagellation - something I no longer give myself the option of partaking in.

Truth No. 2: It was my responsibility to change the conversation. No "fat" or "diet" talk in my sphere. In my home, we never talk about weight or dieting. My litmus test is: "Would I want my daughter to hear me?" If the answer is "no," I don't go there.

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Truth No. 3: This one was the most important. I had to accept and love - and forgive - that 17-year-old girl who found a way to cope through her eating disorder. She is safe now. And I nurture and treasure her and the journey we have been on together. Today my life is beautifully imperfect, colorful and rich.

Wendy Williams Blackshaw lives in Minneapolis and works at The Emily Program. www.emilyprogram.com

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